In Brief: The Essential Dynamics of Hybrid Work; the Power of Personal Stories

May 2022
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The Essential Dynamics of Hybrid Work

As more organizations blend in-person and remote work, four essential dynamics will affect this hybrid model, a new Gallup study concludes. 

The first is “engagement plus well-being.” Engagement is highest among employees who work in hybrid or fully remote arrangements, Gallup finds. Fully remote workers experience less burnout, while fully on-site workers suffer the most burnout. 

The second dynamic Gallup identifies as essential in hybrid work is “fairness plus inclusion.” During the coronavirus pandemic, some considered video meetings more inclusive, since people were more likely to speak up on-camera or in a sidebar chat than during in-person meetings. 

Next is “trust plus productivity.” During the pandemic, managers were surprised to discover employees were equally or more productive working from home than in the office. However, the fourth dynamic Gallup cites is “relationships plus culture.” Companies worry that remote arrangements will erode working relationships and workplace cultures. As more organizations adopt remote or hybrid work, the risk of employee loneliness will increase.

For Deskless Workers, Internal Communications Missing Mark

About one third of employed people say internal communications have little to no effect on how they view their employers’ reputations, a new study from PR firm MSL finds. That percentage climbs higher among employees who don’t work at desks, the study says. 

Employees who work at desks most of the time are influenced by traditional internal-communications channels such as company intranets and websites. In contrast, deskless workers are most influenced by other employees and family members. 

Deskless workers, who make up 37% of the U.S. workforce, include nurses, pilots, delivery drivers, teachers, factory workers and retail salespeople. Among this group, 41% of those surveyed say internal communications have little to no impact on how they think about their employers’ reputations. 

Said Kelly Jankowski, MSL’s managing director of corporate reputation, “Companies that want to create lasting bonds with all employees must turn to nontraditional channels … that intersect with the natural workflow of their employees, particularly those who are deskless.” 

Personal Stories Move Audiences to Help Others, Study Finds

Telling personal stories, as opposed to only using fact-based messages, increases people’s willingness to protect vulnerable groups from COVID-19, new research from the University of Pennsylvania has found.

For the study published in Social Science & Medicine, researchers at the university’s Annenberg School for Communication tested the effectiveness of different kinds of messages. 

Participants read first-person stories from either a health care worker or a prisoner, groups considered at higher risk for COVID-19. Participants also read non-narrative, fact-based messages that included the same basic information, but with no central characters. Listeners were much more immersed in the personal stories, which made them more likely to take actions that would benefit others, the researchers found.

Emily Falk, Ph.D., a senior author of the study, said it shows “that when we only change this one ingredient — tweaking a text to highlight a person’s personal story versus just framing it as facts — it helps people feel transported into the information about COVID-19.”

University of Tennessee Launches Initiative for Minority PR Students

The University of Tennessee wants to make the advertising and PR workforce more representative of state and national populations. In partnership with Tombras, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based advertising agency, the university’s newly named Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations seeks to double the number of its BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) graduates entering those professions.

The school aims to increase overall student enrollment in its advertising and public relations majors. The initiative will support historically underrepresented students with opportunities for scholarships to study abroad, internships in large cities and with help to meet their technology needs.

“We believe it is our duty to give back and lead the advertising and public relations industries into a more equitable future,” said Dooley Tombras, president of the Tombras agency. “Once a student is enrolled, we’re ensuring the facilities are state-of-the-art.” Students will have “access to real-world practical experiences” so they can become “graduates who are among the most competitive in the country.”

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